Agree to do abortions or you can't go to school here.
The Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund has filed a complaint with the federal Department of Health and Human Services in response stating the policy violates federal law.
The ADF reports that federal law states that any institution that receives federal grants cannot require students to do abortions in violation of their religious beliefs.
ADF spokesman Matt Bowman says it's clear the application misses the mark regarding the regulations.
"Vanderbilt is violating the law by requiring nursing residency applicants to promise to assist in abortions," Bowman explained.
"The fact that Vanderbilt receives federal funding violates the law by requiring their nursing candidates to assist in abortions," Bowman added.
Bowman says the Vanderbilt policy violates the law providing that any institution receiving federal grants cannot force, coerce or otherwise require an individual to assist in abortions.
"No entity which receives, after September 29, 1979, any grant, contract, loan, loan guarantee, or interest subsidy under the Public Health Service Act [42 U.S.C. 201 et seq.], the Community Mental Health Centers Act [42 U.S.C. 2689 et seq.], or the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 [42 U.S.C. 15001 et seq.] may deny admission or otherwise discriminate against any applicant (including applicants for internships and residencies) for training or study because of the applicant's reluctance, or willingness, to counsel, suggest, recommend, assist, or in any way participate in the performance of abortions or sterilizations contrary to or consistent with the applicant's religious beliefs or moral convictions," the law stated.
Vanderbilt nursing school spokeswoman Kathy Rivers says the program in
question is the nursing residency program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and not a program at the nursing school.
In a statement released to the media, Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokesman John Howser says the ADF is mistaken.
"Allegations by the Alliance Defense Fund that Vanderbilt's nursing students, or other employees of the Medical Center, are somehow required to participate in terminations of pregnancy or in other activities that may be contrary to the employee's religious beliefs or moral convictions appear to have arisen due to a misunderstanding by the Alliance Defense Fund," the statement said.
The statement adds that Vanderbilt's Medical Center has a religious freedom policy in place.
"A Vanderbilt University Medical Center policy has been in place for years for employees, including nurse residents, so they may be excused from participating in activities due to religious beliefs, ethical beliefs or other associated reasons," Howser's statement continued.
"This policy also applies to applicants to our nursing residency program who may be requested to participate in the care of women who seek medical care associated with the termination of pregnancy," Howser's statement added.
The Vanderbilt University Medical Center's hiring policy states that the center's plan complies with federal standards.
"In compliance with federal law, including the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Executive Order 11246, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as amended, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008i, Vanderbilt University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other university-administered programs; or employment," the policy stated.
But Bowman said the nursing school's distinction is irrelevant and the law applies to the entire Vanderbilt system, schools and medical center. He adds that the statement from the Medical Center pointing to a non-discrimination policy is misleading.
"Vanderbilt is being duplicitous by talking about the wrong policy. Vanderbilt's application package specifically requires applicants to promise to assist in abortions and says nothing about another Vanderbilt policy which does not require them to assist in abortions," Bowman observed.
The language Bowman cites is found in the Women's Health Acknowledgment Letter that is one page 15 of the 16-page application and that the applicant must sign:
"Often women are faced with many difficult decisions about their lives and health care. Nurses in the Center for Women's Health support women through these decisions and provide professional evidence based care specific to each situation. One difficult decision women face is termination of pregnancy. If you are chosen for the Nurse Residency Program in the Women's Health track, you will be expected to care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy," the application letter reads.
The application letter adds that if the candidate cannot sign the letter, they should consider applying elsewhere.
"It is important that you are aware of this aspect of care and give careful consideration to your ability to provide compassionate care to women in these situations. If you feel you cannot provide care to women during this type of event, we encourage you to apply to a different track of the Nurse Residency Program to explore opportunities that may best fit your skills and career goals," the letter added.
The letter that must be signed by the candidate concludes with this acknowledgment.
"By signing this letter, I acknowledge that I am aware that I may be providing nursing care for women who are having the procedures listed above that may be performed in the Center for Women's Health," the letter concluded.
The discovery of Vanderbilt's policy makes the Nashville, Tenn., school just the latest university to reveal admission or graduation policies that potentially require students to set aside religious beliefs in order to graduate.
WND reported that Augusta State University in Augusta, Ga., allegedly is forcing counseling student Jen Keeton to undergo a re-education program because Keeton believes homosexuality is learned behavior.
Keeton's request for an injunction against the school forcing her to attend the re-education program was denied.